Westfield Matildas Head Coach Ante Milicic said he had already made up his mind to appoint Sam Kerr as captain before he’d even met with the players for the first time.
It was announced on Wednesday that Kerr would lead the side into the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France with Steph Catley taking on the role of vice-captain.
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With the Cup of Nations beginning Thursday and FIFA Women’s World Cup on the horizon, Milicic revealed he wanted the players to have some clarity ahead of their first hit-out of 2019, while also taking the time to praise the star striker’s contribution to the team.
“She carries the team, her work ethic, her discipline and the way she’s handled herself from the very first team meeting has been fantastic,” Milicic told reporters.
“We’ve had meetings with the whole squad and also the leadership group and it’s just a decision we’ve made early on in the piece before our first game and I think it’s just clarity moving forward. One thing I will say is they’re a very tight knit group, they get along fantastically well and they’re all supportive of each other.
“It [captaincy] was shared around in the past and when I came in I had a firm decision in my mind I just had to see that confirmation first-hand because even with footballing games, watching them on a laptop and then coming in live it’s different and I had those thoughts in my mind that’s why I’ve made the decision straight sway before this first game.”
Milicic said he hoped the appointment would lead to more international recognition of the 25-year old’s ability.
“She’s an elite athlete, she’s used to having a lot of publicity around her and I think she’s going to grow to a new level,” he said.
“She’s more than ready, let’s be honest, she’s one of the best players in the world so let’s show her the respect she deserves. She gets that from the Australian media but it needs to be on a world-wide scale and I think that France will come as a perfect platform for her.”
As the Westfield Matildas prepare to take on New Zealand at Leichhardt Oval on Thursday evening, Milicic took the time to praise the attitude of the group as they look ahead to a massive year.
“It’s been fantastic, these girls so want to learn and want to get better and the way they’ve taken on board the information that we’ve put across and the way they’ve executed I’ve loved every minute of it and it’s been so enjoyable,” Milicic said.
“The way they go about their business, it’s a professional outfit. They’re elite athletes, they can play some good football and they’ve got good football knowledge.
“We speak about having team meetings and my job is also to educate players as quickly as possible on a playing style and they’ve been fantastic.”